|THE TOP DRIVERS OF 2008|
|THE TOP RACES OF 2008|
1. Robert Kubica; 2. Lewis Hamilton; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Felipe Massa; 5. Sebastian Vettel
Hamilton's peaks (Silverstone in particular) were the highest, but for relentless, consistent maximising of his car's potential it has to be Kubica. Alonso only looked like the great driver he is after the summer break, Massa further improved, took a couple of races to get used to loss of t/c, and Vettel passed every test with flying colours.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Monaco GP; 3. British GP
Edge of the seat until the final corner for the maximum stakes; it has to be Brazil. Monaco because of the thrilling way it all panned out and great performances from all three podium men. Silverstone for a mesmerising demonstration of greatness. All three races have rain in common.
• Something to remember: Second fastest lap on the Bahrain spilt oil: 1:39.2. Button's lap: 1:37.6.
• Something to forget: Interfering race stewards
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Robert Kubica; 4. Sebastian Vettel; 5. Fernando Alonso
You could debate it all day long - was six Hamilton mistakes in one year (Bahrain, Monaco, Montreal, Spa, Monza, Fuji) too many to deserve a world title? Arguably, only the McLaren facilitated it but then, where was Kovalainen? And three of those errors were down to the supreme confidence that makes Lewis so exciting and were hardly capital offences. You have to balance it with just how good he was at Silverstone and Shanghai.
Massa won more races, made fewer errors and suffered more undeservedly lost points, but Melbourne and Malaysia was as bad as Bahrain/Montreal from Lewis and was the level quite as high? Kubica, arguably, did the best job of all with what he had, but it's hard to gauge a guy often running on his own, with a car half a second off the pace. Vettel was inspirational at times and Alonso the safest pair of hands out there when the cards fell his way.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Singapore GP; 3. British GP
For sheer sporting drama you will never surpass Interlagos. Singapore was a new concept, had great atmosphere and the Ferrari mechanics sprinting down the pitlane after 15ft of rogue fuel hose was Jeux Sans Frontieres all over again. A drive like Lewis's at Silverstone is defining and sticks in the mind an awful long time.
• Something to remember: Interlagos, Friday October 31, Ron Dennis: "I've felt for Stefano (Domenicali) a couple of times this year when things haven't gone as smoothly for them..." Could you ever imagine him saying that with Jean Todt sat beside him?
• Something to forget:Sebastien Bourdais' 25s penalty for having the audacity to exist.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Robert Kubica; 5. Sebastian Vettel
Hamilton and Massa both had shaky spells this season (although who didn't?) - but redeemed themselves hugely in the final two races. Hamilton just gets my nod because his worst days were not as bad as Massa's.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Singapore GP; 3. Canadian GP
Will we see a title showdown like Brazill ever again? Unforgettable. Singapore gets second for a great race and a truly great event.
• Something to remember: Witnessing the scenes outside Scuderia Toro Rosso after that crazy afternoon at Monza when Vettel won in the rain
• Something to forget: F1 getting on the front page of the News of the World for the wrong reasons, forcing us to take our eyes off a fantastic on-track battle.
1. Robert Kubica; 2. Fernando Alonso; 3. Lewis Hamilton; 4. Felipe Massa; 5. Sebastian Vettel
Robert Kubica nicks top spot because he was fast, consistent and over-delivered to the point where he was still a title contender in China. But Fernando Alonso ran him close, reminding everyone of his class with inch-perfect drives when he had a sniff of victory, and while you have to mark Lewis Hamilton down for a couple of errors, for much of the season he was breathtaking in his pursuit of surely the first of many titles.
Anyone who doubts Felipe Massa isn't world champion material hasn't been taking notice of his ever-maturing driving. And talking of maturity, how about 21-year-old Sebastian Vettel? His late-season run of results, which included victory at Monza, was remarkable.
1. Singapore GP; 2. Brazilian GP; 3. Belgian GP
The inaugural Singapore Grand Prix was an electrifying spectacle. It also proved that new venues can have soul. Brazil speaks for itself, after all it was the most dramatic title decider in Formula One history, while despite all the post-race controversy those final laps at Spa made you want to stand up and applaud both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
• Something to remember: Felipe Massa's stunning first corner move on Lewis Hamilton to set up what should have been a win in Hungary.
• Something to forget: The Spa controversy which overshadowed what should have been one of the signature races of 2008.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Robert Kubica; 4. Fernando Alonso; 5. Sebastian Vettel
A strong case could be made for any of the top four. But Formula One is ultimately results orientated, and Hamilton and Massa were the clear winners in that regard. It's tough to separate them but Hamilton did lift the title, so he gets the nod. Kubica deserves credit for staying in the hunt for so long when BMW's focus was primarily on 2009. Alonso and Vettel both won in cars that shouldn't have, which is the acid test of driving skill.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Canadian GP; 3. Singapore GP
Brazil might have been a processional race for the most part, but those last few laps provided more heart-stopping excitement than many full seasons do. Both Canada and Singapore were memorable for high drama in the pitlane, unexpected winners, and more championship plot twists than a spy novel.
• Something to remember: Both the Massa and Hamilton camps celebrating wildly and simultaneously after the chequered flag in Brazil.
• Something to forget: The rash of penalties imposed by the stewards during the final quarter of the season.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Fernando Alonso; 3. Felipe Massa; 4. Robert Kubica; 5. Sebastian Vettel
It was almost impossible to separate the top four, each of whom had moments of sheer genius but also either embarrassed themselves or were simply anonymous on occasion. But Hamilton gets the number one nod because on his finest days - such as Monaco, Silverstone and Hockenheim - his performances had the extra element of physics-defying magic that proved he is the most talented driver of the era. Massa also forced the paddock to totally reassess him, while Alonso and Kubica more than made up for their 2007 lapses and were the outstanding performers of the second and first halves of the season respectively.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Singapore GP; 3. Belgian GP
Spa would've topped this list if the stewards' post-race decision hadn't taken the shine off the otherwise epic denouement. Thankfully there were no such intrusions at Interlagos. F1 will be hard-pressed to ever produce another finale that dramatic. And far from being a 'circus' as Luca di Montezemolo suggested, Singapore's safety car affected floodlit street race was a fantastic advert for the sport.
• Something to remember: The final minutes at Interlagos - unforgettable and probably unrepeatable.
• Something to forget: The increasing tendency for every incident to incur a penalty, and particularly the absolutely baffling decision to penalise Bourdais for doing all he could to avoid an accident as Massa blithely turned in on him at Fuji.
1. Sebastian Vettel; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Lewis Hamilton; 5. Robert Kubica
Had it been a dry season, Vettel would still be on the list after the Italy win, but is top because his wet weather performances were riveting. Massa outperformed his critics expectations, winning many over.
Alonso was back to his top form, delivering the maximum from the car at every opportunity whilst Kubica, besides eclipsing Quick Nick comprehensively at BMW, ended the season on a par with Raikkonen, which is a no mean feat.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Monaco GP; 3. Hungarian GP
Clearly, determining the Championship on the final corner of the final race is something special - but the mixed conditions made racing entertaining even without the extra spice.
Monaco was memorable this year, with mayhem from the wet racing, pit-stops for repairs, Raikkonen taking out the amazingly fourth-placed Sutil and a well earned victory for the man who would become World Champion.
Hungary was memorable for surprises too: dominant Massa failed to finish after an engine failure, Kovalainen took his first win whilst Hamilton disappears from contention after a puncture, and Glock was ahead of Raikkonen on the podium.
• Something to remember: The final lap of the year - a nail-biter!
• Something to forget: Honda's whole year... if you remember they even took part.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Sebastian Vettel; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Robert Kubica; 5. Felipe Massa
Hamilton this year was clearly above anyone else and made only one, big, mistake: the blunder in Canada when he rammed Raikkonen. Vettel confirmed his status as rising star, Alonso was determined and Kubica showed great performances until the car allowed him to. Massa is fifth, a difficult call, as to me he didn't do much better than in 2007, but was greatly helped by circumstances.
1. Monaco GP; 2. Italian GP; 3. British GP
Monaco under the rain was great, including Hamilton's win after his mistake. Italy was exciting thanks to the "random" grid and Great Britain was a masterful display by Hamilton to be remembered in the record books.
• Something to remember: The last laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
• Something to forget: Inconsistent stewards decisions that greatly influenced the championship course. The risk of losing credibility is around the corner.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Sebastian Vettel; 5. Robert Kubica
Even after costly mistakes in Bahrain, Canada and Japan, Hamilton's raw speed and racing spirit took him to the title with some sensational performances along the way - particularly at Monaco, Silverstone and Hockenheim.
Massa improved his game considerably to produce some incredible displays, often dominating in qualifying and leading away from the front. Alonso scored two amazing wins and was on top form in a Renault team environment that clearly suits him.
Vettel and Kubica were both maiden winners and spectacular all year, but the Pole takes fifth after his early-season consistency tailed off in the latter part of the year. These five together represent an incredible line-up of driving talent for the future of the sport.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Monaco GP; 3. Singapore GP
Brazil had everything: passion, tension and incredible drama. Rain was predicted by the long-range forecasts while the teams were still in China, and ultimately the skies did deliver water, with impeccable timing, to provide a thrilling climax to an outstanding season.
Along with the very wet races at Silverstone and Monza, Monaco was rain-affected and provided sensational entertainment. The classic street race was spiced up by showers and the winner even smacked the barriers and got away with it!
Singapore under the lights was an amazing spectacle and the race lived up to the hype with safety car chaos and an unexpected winner.
• Something to remember: Those sensational final moments of the season with the championship outcome swinging wildly between the two contenders - and making sense of it all, as it happened.
• Something to forget: Max Mosley's encounter with the News of the World.
1. Fernando Alonso; 2. Sebastian Vettel; 3. Lewis Hamilton; 4. Felipe Massa; 5. Timo Glock
Fernando Alonso's driving has been a joy to watch during a tough 2008 campaign where he could easily have given up. Despite a mediocre Renault in the first half of the season, he pushed as hard as ever, and deserves more credit for his commitment as a driver during the first ten races, than the wins he scored in Singapore and Japan.
Sebastian Vettel was stunning once his season got going, culminating of course in the fabulous victory in the Royal Park of Monza, whereas Hamilton and Massa - although driving well - made too many unforced errors to be considered driver of the year.
Timo Glock impressed me a lot through the season, using a one-stop strategy to the maximum on several occasions, as well his great drive to second place at the Hungaroring in August.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Monaco GP; 3. Canadian GP
The story of Brazil will still be recounted in 50 years time by proud grandparents the world over, enthusing over the details of the final laps and recalling where they were the day the title changed hands twice in the final three laps - it really will have that much significance as the years roll on.
Although Monaco is still a supreme challenge, a wet Monaco raises the excitement level even further. Monaco 2008 had everything; good racing, incidents, safety cars, triumph (Hamilton), and ultimately disappointment (Sutil).
Canada is my third choice, rather than say Singapore, or Belgium, due to the Robert Kubica factor. With the recent title battle, during the last six races, the story of Kubica's horrible accident in 2007, swift recovery and perfect answer at the same venue one year later can be easy to forget. Of course, Canada also gave every car owner on the planet a gentle reminder of the protocol at important stages on the road - particularly at traffic lights.
• Something to remember: Sebastian Vettel's qualifying and race performances at Monza.
• Something to forget: Grooved tyres - they won't be missed!
1. Fernando Alonso; 2. Sebastian Vettel; 3. Robert Kubica; 4. Lewis Hamilton; 5. Felipe Massa
My top five list is headed by drivers who actually got the absolute maximum out of their cars during the season, flattering their teams thanks to their driving skills. And on top of that list there is Fernando Alonso, who managed two outstanding wins in a car with which any other driver would have settled for a top eight.
Sebastian Vettel showed not only incredible speed - especially in tricky conditions - but also a maturity beyond his age. Robert Kubica was a championship contender until the penultimate race of the season with a car that was miles behind the top two... which is Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa get the bottom two places on my list.
Both men were great for most of the season, but none were at their very best all year long, with judgement errors or driving mistakes that relegate them down my list.
1. Italian GP; 2. Brazilian GP; 3. Singapore GP
The Italian Grand Prix gets the top spot thanks to Vettel's sensational win. Watching him dominate the race from start to finish in a Toro Rosso was one of the highlights of the season for me. Brazil gets second thanks to those heart-stopping two final laps, and Singapore makes the list thanks to being an historic event for Formula One.
• Something to remember: The closest season in years.
• Something to forget: Spankgate.
1. Fernando Alonso; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Sebastian Vettel; 4. Lewis Hamilton; 5. Robert Kubica
Given the equipment each driver had at his disposal, Alonso did easily the best job. Massa exceeded expectations, surprised everyone and probably deserved the title. Vettel punched high above his weight for a sustained period. Hamilton was untouchable at times, but too often still far from the complete package. Kubica was impressive early on but faded late on, even taking BMW's foot-off-the-gas approach to the second half of the season into account.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Italian GP; 3. Singapore GP
Not enough races produce genuine excitement and anticipation these days, but this year had some corkers. The season finale was one of the most butterfly-enducing races in years, even decades - you couldn't have written a better script yourself for an edge of the seat finish. Willing Vettel to hold on after the final round of stops at Monza was another of those moments, and Singapore was a standout spectacle, even if did take a safety car to jumble the order - whatever it takes to keep the action coming.
• Something to remember: The huge variety of race winners and different people popping up at the front from week to week.
• Something to forget: Penalties, politics and anything else that happened off track. Just get in the cars and race!
1. Fernando Alonso; 2. Lewis Hamilton; 3. Felipe Massa; 4. Sebastian Vettel; 5. Robert Kubica
With rather ordinary equipment at his disposal, Alonso showed why he is the best and most complete driver, reminding me of Schumacher in his first season at Ferrari. Despite coming extremely close to losing the championship once again at the last moment, Hamilton is a hugely-talented worthy champion. Massa has matured greatly over the years and losing the title was down to Ferrari's shambles more than anything else. Winning at Monza by beating everyone else fair and square made Vettel an instant star, but his charge at Interlagos was equally impressive. Kubica mounted a strong title challenge that his BMW team couldn't maintain.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Singapore GP; 3. Italian GP
The Interlagos race wouldn't have been such a classic if it wasn't the title showdown, but as things were, it proved to be an emotional roller coaster that had us on the edge of our seats even after Massa took the chequered flag. The maiden night race at Singapore turned out to be a winner also thanks to a Safety Car period that turned proceedings inside out. A stunning Vettel and the rain made Monza one of the highlights of the season.
• Something to remember: Massa's dignity after losing the title.
• Something to forget: Mosleygate and the excessive interference from the stewards.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Sebastian Vettel; 5. Robert Kubica
Lewis Hamilton had a season of fluctuations; stunning speed in races, but got caught out seemingly unnecessarily in qualifying at times; willing to try overtaking moves, most of them successful, but a few failing to, with varying consequences. A virtually flawless season in his rookie year (apart from his off while leading in China and his overexuberance on the first lap in Brazil), this season he was prone to silly errors which (more than once) could have ended up costing him the world title.
Felipe Massa had a consistently strong season after being in the shadow of Kimi Raikkonen in the early races. He was maybe lucky in Valencia and Spa, but then unlucky in Hungary (after a stunning pass at the start) and early on in Singapore, and of course, the cruel twist on the final lap in Brazil. Fernando Alonso was able to show he was on top form in the closing races, taking two wins that involved some luck, but not too much.
Sebastian Vettel showed he is a star of the future as well as of the present, with a virtually flawless pole position and victory at Monza, and strong performances in the second half of the season in an improving Toro Rosso. Robert Kubica took his maiden victory and was in with a chance of winning the title until China, but it was as much through consistency as speed, his performances in the later rounds a little disappointing.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Italian GP; 3. Canadian GP
The Brazilian GP was, for the second year in a row, expected to be an unexciting race, with Lewis Hamilton again taking a seven point lead into the finale. But with Hamilton fifth on the grid and Massa on pole it started to ramp up.
Rain as the race was scheduled to start made things more tense, Hamilton then appearing to do just enough to take the title rather than go all-out and risk making contact or a mistake. It appeared things were all under control but rain at the end spiced things up again, even moreso when Vettel moved ahead of Hamilton with three laps remaining.
But there was one more twist to come, when, within sight of the chequered flag and with Hamilton's rival Massa already across the finish line, Timo Glock couldn't find enough grip on his slick tyres, Vettel and Hamilton flying past, making Lewis Hamilton the champion. The Italian GP was a special race for the performance of one man (or should that be boy?), Sebastien Vettel showing that a great driver in a good car in the right conditions can still make a difference.
Fianlly, I choose the Canadian GP for BMW Sauber's first 1-2 finish and Robert Kubica's victory at a circuit where just one year ago he had a spectacular accident that when it happened, appeared it might have ended his career, or worse.
• Something to remember: The emergence of Sebastian Vettel, and the return to the front of Fernando Alonso as the season progressed.
• Something to forget: Continuing controversy over stewards' decisions (or lack of) and why those decisions were (or weren't) made, regardless of which team or driver is involved or where they were in the field.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Fernando Alonso; 4. Robert Kubica; 5. Sebastien Bourdais
Lewis frequently made his job to win the championship more difficult than he needed to, but he did win it in the end. They both had some terrible races but Massa seemed to make errors that were less forgivable. If you look at the season he should have been able to take the title easily. Alonso once again showed he's the kind of driver that defines the moment rather than letting the moment define him but Kubica is hard to place without knowing how much BMW sacrificed their season preparing for 2009, likewise the struggles of teammate Heidfeld in qualifying (and therefor the race) skewed the perspective.
I put Sebastien Bourdais in at the end because he wasn't hyped by the teams, media, or spectators; yet did an extremely competitive job against 'the next big thing'. I must confess I used to work for his Champ Car team during his title winning years and that makes me biased, but that also means I know better than most how good he is. And as was asked for most of the year, where is Kimi Raikkonen? If he can't take this seriously, why should I?
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Belgian GP; 3. Singapore GP
Despite McLaren's claims I don't think anyone knew what was happening on the final lap in Interlagos, and from the moment the rain splattered the grid you had to watch every corner. Spa was a textbook grand prix but had sensational final laps and and while Singapore was set to be very quiet until Piquet started Safety Car Bingo, the race at least looked the part and must have half the calendar worrying about how they can keep their world championship events world class.
• Something to remember: Lewis Hamilton demonstrating his precision to avoid the Canadian Grand Prix wildlife during Friday practice (you can look it up on your favorite video streaming website). It can't be coincidence that he is the World Champion and Anthony "Marmot Murderer" Davidson doesn't have a ride.
• Something to forget: The 'outrage' over Max Mosley's private life. I'd love to say 'who cares' but obviously a lot of people did despite it having no relevance to, or impact on, the championship and its governance.
1. Lewis Hamilton; 2. Felipe Massa; 3. Robert Kubica; 4. Fernando Alonso; 5. Kimi Raikkonen
Lewis Hamilton held his nerve to become a world champion in only his second season and his performances at Silvertone, Hockenheim, Spa and Shanghai were world class. Felipe Massa improved in spades and did little wrong all year, while Robert Kubica played the classic dark horse role and impressed mightily. Fernando Alonso was wonderfully resurgent and exciting as always, and while Kimi Raikkonen was not always on it this year, Spa reminded us how fast he still is.
1. Brazilian GP; 2. Belgian GP; 3. Singapore GP
Brazil hosted the most dramatic Formula One world championship finale in living memory, and it went down to the last corner, literally. Spa saw some cracking wheel-to-wheel racing, even if it ended in controversy, and as for Singapore, well you just didn't want it to end did you?
• Something to remember: Hamilton's brilliant, adrenaline-fuelled fightback in Hockenheim after he lost the lead following a mid-race safety car period. Fantastic to watch trackside.
• Something to forget: Some of the stewarding decisions in 2008. I still don't know what Sebastien Bourdais did wrong in Fuji.